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The Eucharist gives me strength to make it through hard times. When the consecration takes place, I feel the presence of the angels and saints and all the people I have loved who have gone before me. It's the time when Heaven and Earth come together, and it gives me great peace. When I walk up in the Communion line, I like to make sure my mind and heart are in the right place, so I picture Jesus at the front waiting to give me His body and blood. After I receive, I look at the cross and silently say, ‘Thank You.’ All of this helps me to recognize what a beautiful gift I am receiving. This was especially helpful when I was wrangling young children up through the Communion line.
In 2004, after I had my fifth child, my husband got a new job that required our family to move to Buffalo, NY for a time span of anywhere between 18 months and 3 years. I was devastated and didn't want to leave family, friends, and my beloved Shrine community. As much as I didn't want to, we went, and it was hard. When I got to Buffalo, I remember having to fill out the school forms and I had to put my realtor's name as the emergency contact because it was the only person that I knew in the area.
We found a Catholic church and school that was nice but it wasn't the same. Every Sunday, after I received the Eucharist, I prayed in the pew for Jesus to give me His strength, His wisdom and His joy to keep going in a situation that I was not happy in. I would say, “God, just give me your strength. Give me your strength to get through this week.” And I would take it one day at a time.
And you know what? He did all those things and more! He sent me this wonderful neighbor who moved from Texas with her husband and two kids, and she was so helpful. She would babysit, she would bring me lunch every Tuesday and sit when the kids were taking a nap. And there was another mom that I met at a soccer game. She drove the same big van that I had and she had six kids. She took me under her wing, invited me to coffee mornings, and helped me meet other women.
We met wonderful friends and people of strong faith that carried us through our time in Buffalo. I would have very vivid dreams during the night that Jesus was actually carrying me through my life! And on the day that we had been there 18 months, we got word that we could return to Royal Oak. God is good! When my husband and I look back on that time, we realize that because we didn't know that many people, we had so much family time, which was such a blessing. But you don't always see it when you're in it.
I have found a new way of praying in the pew after I receive the Eucharist. As I consume the body of Christ, I pray for all those I know who have fallen away from the Church and I mention them each by name. If I am at a weekday Mass and my kids and my husband are not with me, I pray for each and every one of them. I do this for my older kids who have moved out and are on their own, possibly not always taking time to go to church. One time, when they were all with me at Christmas, I came back after Communion and prayed for my sister and her family like I always do. But when I tried to move on to my kids, the Eucharist was gone! I felt it was gone so quickly because they were all there receiving—it was an awesome feeling! I hope through my prayers I can transform the lives of others.
In our world of constant noise and chatter, it's a blessing to be able to sit in front of Jesus in total silence. It's hard sometimes to shut my mind off — but the longer I sit, the easier it becomes.
We have eight children and we always made it a point for them to go to see Jesus in adoration after they made their First Communion. We wanted them to know it wasn't all about the dress and the party, but more about the relationship and friendship they were to have with Jesus. We are blessed, as Catholics, to be able to go and be with Jesus whenever we desire.
When I go to adoration, I try hard to listen to what God is telling me, and not always ask Him for things I may want or help I may need. He puts thoughts and solutions in my head that help me get through tough times and recognize the blessings of the easy times. It feels like such a gift. I wish more people knew what a blessing this is, that we have this right available to us 24 hours a day.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.